A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2009, vol 5 no 1

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Giselle Maya

A Huguenot

from spring to autumn an old mas,
a Provencal stonehouse, is opened by its owners
to people who love classical music
young interpretes
come from Paris and elsewhere to give concerts
violon, violoncelle, harpe, piano

listening to the stream of notes directly from
a composer's consciousness I loose myself
until something
the flicker of a candle
the flutter of olives leaves through the window
calls me back to the vaulted room

later the guests share red wine and
chat informally with the musicians

once my immediate neighbor
a distinguished man with grey-blond hair
and an outgoing manner
told me how he had bicycled through Europe as a young man
and made a stop in my home town
when I told him I wrote tanka and haiku he was interested
to have one of my books -- THE TAO OF WATER
then he asked if I would help him write the history of his family --
Huguenots who had fled north during times of persecution in France
this seemed like a formidable task and I suggested a writer who lives
in nearby Roussillon and writes historical books

we met again at another concert and talked
he told me then that he had been caught by a priest
of the religion then in power
and was about to be burned he escaped
was he speaking of a prior life
this calm centered man
I feel grateful for his wellbeing and that he can be here
to enjoy this heavenly music

a birdlike face
like an egret a heron
fastidiously poised

very long legs
the smile of a boy
something sinister
has happened to him
long ago

"my three daughters
have surpassed me" he said
"in brain power"


The word "mas" is widely used in Provence for a large stone house set in the country, formerly just a farmhouse.

The word “Interpretes” refers to musicians who interpret the music of composers like Debussy, Sati, Gershwin etc.

The Huguenots were French Protestants, some of whom followed the teachings of John Calvin; they were forced by the catholic church to flee to other countries from the 16th century onward. Some remained practising in secret. They believed that salvation could be achieved by the individual without intercession by the church and that each person had the right to interpret the scriptures.

Accused of heresy, from 1536 onward many Huguenots fled to other countries and were welcomed, as they were often skilled artisans and craftsmen, well educated. Germany, the Netherlands, England, South Africa and in the U.S. the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York received many "Eidgenossen", a German term believed to be the origin of the word Huguenot.

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